Published: 16:00, 22 June 2015
| Updated: 16:17, 22 June 2015
British Airways has pledged to modify planes which produce a disturbing, high-pitched noise after a campaign by Tunbridge Wells MP, Greg Clark.
Chief executive of the company, Keith Williams, contacted Mr Clark to say all the Airbus A320s, which produce the sound, will be upgraded and modified within two years.
Mr Clark, who is also secretary of state for communities and local government, said said acraft noise is of great concern to many west Kent residents who live beneath the Gatwick flightpath so he is pleased with this big step forward.
He added: "Older Airbus A320 planes make a particular high pitched whining noise and the problem can easily be sorted out by retrofitting the planes with a simple piece of kit. Unfortunately up until now all British airline operators have refused to do so.
"I must commend British Airways for taking action on this and I hope that other operators such as easyJet will now follow suit. I will be meeting with the Chief Executive of easyJet soon to press her to do so.
"Airline operators have a responsibility to local communities to do everything that they can to reduce noise levels and they need to start taking this responsibility more seriously. British Airways have set an example – there is no longer any excuse for other airlines like EasyJet to make people suffer unnecessarily.”
The whining noise on the older Airbus A320 planes is caused by the fuel over pressure protector (FOPP) cavities which can be fixed by retrofitting the planes with flow deflectors.
British Airways have 130 older Airbus A320 planes which will start to be modified from October 2015.
British Airways' head of environment, Jonathon Counsell, said: "As part of our sustainability strategy we are always looking for new ways to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on our local communities, and we are delighted to be able to make these changes."
Two operators from other countries - Lufthansa and Air France - have already retrofitted all of these types of planes in their fleet.
Residents of west Kent have been campaigning against the proposed expansion of Gatwick Airport which would see the addition of another runway.
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